Should you hold a client appreciation event?
Well, you don’t need to do anything, but the short answer is HELL YEA.
Because its the ultimate way to connect with the most important asset in your business in a very natural way, your DATABASE. The most important kind of marketing you can be doing in your business is one that focuses around nurturing the relationships you have in life because it’s a fact that 60% of ALL agent business comes from people you know, not from technology or prospecting.
Having a client appreciation event is a marketing ploy to gather more referrals and repeat business if you do it right and consistently(1-4 times a year). Let’s first knock out the first question many Realtors ask.
Who Do You Invite?
Many realtors think their client appreciation event should only be for past clients? Everyone lives somewhere don’t they? This is mistake #1. Your friends, family, and past co-workers are future clients, unless you don’t expect them to use you when they are ready to buy or sell. They are also all referral sources because each of them has the ability to introduce your services to someone in their sphere(100% of the people you know, knows someone who is moving this year). Inviting them to your client appreciation event allows them to see you in a professional light. They will see that you are more than their weekend warrior beer drinking buddy. You are a professional DAMN IT! Often this is what it takes to turn them from a “friend” into a referral source.
It’s only a matter of time until everyone in your network moves so the sooner the you program in their heads that you are their go to Realtor, the faster you will see their referrals and direct business.
Last year I sold a house to a guy who came to my client appreciation event 4 years prior. When I asked him how he got my information he told me, “I was at your party dude, it was awesome”. I didn’t even have his email, he just remembered me and looked me up. That one deal paid for the whole event plus some, in addition to creating another client and referral source.
Client parties will bring you business and build your brand if you do them. The key is to not overthink it and brand them. You’ll see what I mean in some of the client appreciation event ideas below.
How Much Should I Spend On A Client Appreciation Event?
As much as it takes. Yes, a client appreciation event can be expensive, but with a little creativity they don’t have to be. I used to do HUGE blow out parties and we used to spend $10,000-$15,000 on each event. I know you are probably like holy crap, but I would sponsor those events out. I would have my lender, closing attorney, and other strategic alliances contribute as sponsors and in exchange they were free to invite all of their database, which increased our overall attendance and impact.
I would also team up with my agents on my team and we would split the cost up amongst each other based on the total amount of agents participating to keep costs down. The end result was one bad ass party that people loved to attend. We used to average 400-600 people per event.
I understand that this may be out of many agents budgets. so I want to give you some other client appreciation event ideas.
Here are some client appreciation event ideas to help you plan your next one.
Rent Out A Nightclub/Bar– We would rent out a nightclub before they were open to the public from a 6-9 pm on a Thursday night and invite over 1,500 people through Evites, social media, email lists, and direct mail invitations. The reason we did a nightclub was because they had no kitchen,which helped lower the costs. The nightclub was also closed at the time we would do the event so it was a win win for both of us. We would do a 3 hour mega party, free drinks/food, host fundraiser, pictures, and even ice sculptures. The establishment monetized an early evening when they were typically closed.
After 6 years of doing this, it built a very solid brand.
Holiday Events– You can very easily host a “Pictures with Santa” or “Pictures With The Easter Bunny” for a client appreciation event. These are very inexpensive and an easy way for you to market your business and at the same time solve a problem many families face. As a father trust me when I say this, but I don’t want to stand in line for 2 hours waiting for a 5 second picture with Santa, but I do want the picture for memories. You can do this in your office and totally sponsor the entire event out. Remember that the lines are super long at the malls and most parents just want the pictures so this is an easy way to get in front of them and brand yourself to remind people what you do for a living.
Last year I stood in line for almost 3 hours to get a picture with Santa. I was miserable and wish a Realtor just had a Santa to snap a 2 second picture with to please my wife.
House Party– Have a party, yea at your house. Depending on your home set up, you may want to limit your invite list in this case, but just remember its the thought that counts. You can have a BBQ in your yard. This shouldn’t be too expensive and a great way to nurture your database. You can also host neighborhood BBQ as a farming technique to your community and sponsor your brand making it an event!
Fundraising Events– I love fundraising client appreciation events because it’s something most people can get around. I used to like raising money for foundations. A fundraiser can be less expensive because most of your sponsors should be donating towards the cause and your attendees should not have a problem paying some money at the door.
Your database will also appreciate what you are doing.
Local Events of Importance– What if your local sports team is in the championship? Have a viewing party of the final game for a client appreciation event. You could create an event very quickly just by hosting a viewing party at a public place or even your house. This may be more last second, but it’s the invite that’s most important.
Just don’t invite any Packers fans, lol.
Here are some other client appreciation event ideas from a couple of agents I know in California that were extremely creative and thought you would get a kick of these. Both of these Realtors understand the importance of branding their business within a client appreciation event and BOTH of them are Rockstars!
Meet David Serpa
I thought I was a bad ass in real estate until I met this guy. David is a veteran and served our nation proudly as a marine. After he returned from Afghanistan he took up a career in real estate and has completely dominated his market in a very short amount of time. David understands the importance of building a brand.
David is a good man and gives back to his community and did a country music festival in Temecula, CA for his client appreciation event. Most people wouldn’t believe me, but watch the video and see for yourself. This is one of the best examples of client appreciation event I have ever seen.
I want you to take notice of how he branded the entire thing from the video to the stage. What a class act.
Check out his website at www.DavidSerpaHomes.com if you want to get more information on how to build a brand and a team!
Meet Cherrie & Zach
Here’s another team out of Santa Clarita, CA that dominates. Meet Cherrie Brown and her partner Zach. These two are rockstar agents and totally understand branding and how to think outside the box and create value for their network. I saw this on Facebook and thought it was very clever. When Star Wars came out, all the shows were all sold out so what Cherrie and her partner do?
They rented a movie theatre at 10:00 in the morning and held a client appreciation event viewing party. HOLY CRAP is that good. They knew everyone wanted to see Star Wars so they made it happen because all the theaters were sold out. This was an outstanding way to create value for their network. I want you to see how they branded the event. PURE GENIUS! They also used hashtags for all photos taken from the event because they know what to do with social media.
Did It Work?
Here’s what Cherrie had to say;
“I got a referral the day after from someone who attended too. So it worked! We got so much biz from it. We rented out a theater for opening day of star wars and treated our clients to unlimited mimosa and hot chocolate and a local restaurant in walking distance to the theater since it was a 10am movie. Total cost was $2500 I split with affiliates 3 ways so my cost was $750”
If you want to see a very good real estate marketing team visit their website at www.CherrieAndZach.com.
WOW. Please keep in mind that if your primary goal of your client appreciation event isn’t to rake in business then your mindset is backward. It should be to strengthen your relationship with your network to encourage referrals and repeat business.
Don’t Forget This…
What If Nobody Shows?
So you don’t get the turnout you wanted. Big deal, it’s the thought that counts. I would market my client appreciation event to my database 3- 4 times the month of. At worst I was able to market my real estate business without having to talk about real estate at all. My first client event was only 40 people, but it was a starting point for me. I collected all their names and addresses and put them all on my database that I systematically market. The event itself allowed me to have an excuse to call my network and ask for their direct mailing address I built my direct mail list in the process furthering my reach. The promotion of the event itself is a “sell without selling” marketing activity for your business!
As long as you invite your network it’s an excuse to touch base, reinforce the fact you are in real estate, and a way to humanize your brand.
TIP:The most important thing you can do to increase attendance is to make a phone call and give them a personal invite. I used to text and personally invite my most important contacts.
Hosting a client appreciation event is a way to build and strengthen your relationships with your network and will be the best use of marketing dollars that you can spend. I would recommend this over a Zillow zip code any day of the week, what you think?